Saturday, August 31, 2013

Four Easy Ways to Develop Small Motor Skills in Early Learners


      These jumbo sized plastic tweezers are perfect for developing hand muscles in tiny pupils. They have large easy to grip handles and require the child to apply a considerable degree of pressure to ensure firm control of the object he or she is moving. These two factors are important because the tool needs to be safe but also effective in gradually increasing strength of a small child over a period of it's use. 
      Early learning centers often supply activities that require the use of tweezers such as these. The tasks appear to be almost too simple on the surface until you pick up the tool and squeeze it between your pointing finger and thumb. This is not such an easy task for a two or three year old. In order for the tool to work, however, one must supply ample opportunities for it to be used on a daily basis.

    Tracing both around a heavy cardstock stencil as well as inside of one is an excellent way to build up a child's eye-hand motor coordination. Very simple shapes should be used to begin the exercise with. Then the instructor should gradually complicate the stencils in order to build dexterity and patience in the student. 
      As the child ages, teachers may then ask him or her to cut out the shapes they have traced with the stencil. The progression of this technique will cause students to constantly focus and adapt their abilities to task. 
      Above are examples that I would expect a fourth grader to successfully cut out. However, a third grader should have no trouble with tracing around or inside these shapes. Younger children should be given geometric stencils and also be taught the names of their shapes in preschool.

      Lacing cards come in every shape, size and theme. These are also easy to make with clipart, a whole punch and heavy cardboard. The lacing cards pictured above are coated with a durable plastic so that they will endure heavy use; some lacing cards are actually made of wood. Students may use yarn, ribbon or shoe laces to string in and out of the holes around the pictures. 
      The literal act of pushing a lace through a small hole forces a child to manipulate tiny objects in a restricted way. These movements are early preparation exercises for writing. Hand control skill learned with this toy will help to insure that similar control over a pencil. Like many small motor exercises, lacing cards must be repeated daily in order for it their benefit to be substantial. Parents, teachers and child care providers should encourage their young students to lace cards, pinch with tweezers and draw around stencils for at least ten minutes every day up until they have mastered handwriting.

      Above is a zipper purse designed in the colors of a rainbow. This zipper purse is very easy to manipulate and is probably better suited to an infant. Dolls and quite books made with zippers, buttons, shoe strings, snaps etc... are also very popular toys designed to develop eye-hand coordination in young children.

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